Gainesville-area jobless rate ticks up as more people look for work
Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
More people in Gainesville had jobs in November, but the jobless rate ticked up as the number of unemployed outpaced the newly hired, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent in October to 4.9 percent in November after the number of job seekers without jobs rose from 6,936 to 7,154 in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area, made up of Alachua and Gilchrist counties. The number of employed also rose over the month, from 137,968 to 138,204. The rate in November 2012 was 6.1 percent.
Florida’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent to 6.4 percent, matching the lowest rate since July 2008. The rate a year ago was 8 percent. The U.S. rate dropped to 7 percent from 7.3 percent in October and 7.8 percent in November 2012.
The state continued its job growth momentum in November, equaling October’s 2.5 percent year-over-year growth rate — the highest since June 2006 — with 183,100 new jobs. The number of jobs was up by 6,100 over October. Annual U.S. job growth was 1.7 percent in November.
Job gains in Florida were fueled by increases in food and beverage stores, employment services, food services and drinking places, specialty trade contractors, ambulatory health care services, real estate, fabricated metal product manufacturing, publishing industries, personal and laundry services, and membership associations and organizations.
The Gainesville metro area saw job growth of 3.3 percent over the year with 4,400 more jobs, including 5,300 new private-sector jobs and a loss of 900 government jobs. Education and health services saw the most gains with 1,300, followed by 1,000 in retail trade, 900 in professional and business services and 800 in leisure and hospitality.
For the newly unemployed, glitches in the new Connect online unemployment compensation claims system have delayed benefits for some claimants since it came online on Oct. 15, particularly claims flagged for potential ineligibility.
The Department of Economic Opportunity said in a news release Friday that delays in the program used to adjudicate such claims have increased the caseload to unacceptable levels.
The DEO announced that it was withholding a $3 million installment payment from Deloitte Consulting for the new system, and fining the company $15,000 for every day the system is not fully functional since the contractor for the system missed Friday’s deadline to fix the glitches.
FloridaWorks’ One-Stop centers have seen 250 to 350 walk-in claimants per week since the Connect system launched, said executive director Kim Tesch-Vaught. The organization can help with online filing but has to refer a lot of questions to the state, she said.
For the long-term unemployed, emergency unemployment compensation ends on Dec. 28 since Congress left an extension out of its recent budget deal.
Emergency benefits will end for 1.3 million U.S. claimants who have exhausted regular benefits, including 75,000 in Florida. In the Alachua-Bradford workforce region, 80 people received emergency benefits as of Oct. 21, Tesch-Vaught said.
“The only support we’re going to be able to offer them — and we have been working with many of them — are the programs that will get them to work as fast as possible,” she said.
FloridaWorks steers people into training programs and networking opportunities, plus offers help updating resumes.
“We have found for our highest level of degreed professionals, the job that they lost is not coming back,” Tesch-Vaught said. “We are seeing an uptick in job postings, and some of those opportunities are going to be there for them, but for many of them they have to reinvent themselves.”
In Florida, regular unemployment benefits pay a maximum of $275 a week for 19 weeks. The duration, which is tied to the state unemployment rate, will drop to 16 weeks for new claims starting Jan. 1.
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